Social history

A Better World?

Find out about the immediate impact of the First World War on life in Scotland

A guid cause

The history of the women's suffrage movement in Scotland, with photographs, newspaper reports, diary entries and other sources. Activities for secondary schools. Includes downloadable PDFs

A Scots buik on the plague

Scotland's first printed medical book (1568), written in Scots. Learn the history of the plague in Scotland. Downloadable learning activities

Asian directories and chronicles

Listings of corporations, foreign residents and government agencies of all nationalities in Asia, 1917 to 1941

Britain: An official handbook

A report for each year from 1979 to 1989 summarising Britain's government policies, initiatives and public services

Broadsides from the Crawford Collection

Explore more than 2,000 broadsides printed between 1501 and 1897 covering a wide range of subjects

Chapbooks printed in Scotland

Small cheap booklets sold on Scotland's streets were essential reading material for the masses in the 18th and 19th centuries

English ballads

Browse over 2,300 broadside ballads, mostly from 19th-century England, with subjects ranging from courtship, occupations and emigration to patriotism and wars

Experiences of the Great War

The First World War experiences of four very different people — the General, the Nurse, the Soldier, and the Conscientious Objector

First World War official photographs

Black-and-white photographs mainly of the Western Front during the First World War. From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig

From shore to shore

Celebrating Scotland's coastal communities with a small sample from the MacKinnon photographic collection from the late 1800s

Golf in Scotland 1457-1744

Take a swing through golf's early history. Key documents, including the first 'rules' of the game, show how golf developed in Scotland


Learn about the sinking of HMY Iolaire on 1 January 1919 through Library items and contributions from the Isle of Lewis

Ladies' Edinburgh Debating Society publications

Magazines representing a key moment in Scottish women's history. Published between 1865 and 1880, with general interest articles, fiction and poetry

Lifting the lid

Explore Scotland’s natural larder, from the 17th century to the 21st, using items from our collections. Downloadable PDFs for teachers

Macfarlane's genealogies

Volume one of Walter Macfarlane's collection of genealogies of ancient Scottish families, compiled around 1750

Moving Image Archive

Watch films from Scotland's national moving images collection, which preserves over 100 years of Scottish history on film and video

Oor Wullie: Guide to Scots language

Oor Wullie an his pals hiv fun weys fur bairns tae learn Scots, an ideas fur parents an teachers

Propaganda — a weapon of war

A selection of images of British Government propaganda which was used at home and in Europe during the Second World War

Publications by Scottish clubs

Historical texts from the 12th-19th centuries, edited by Scottish clubs, including manuscripts, church records, diaries, legends and literary texts

Recipes from Scotland

Discover how the Scottish diet has changed over the centuries, read manuscript recipe books, and watch Sue Lawrence bake a cake

Rise of literacy

Books and pamphlets on education and the founding of libraries, printed between 1460 and 1900

Rolls of honour

Scottish listings of casualties and those who died while on active service during the First World War

Scotland's News

A small sample of newspapers from across Scotland, printed during the 18th to 20th centuries

Scotland's pages

Move along the timeline of key events in Scottish history, and discover along the way some of the 'treasures' held by the Library

Scottish History Society publications

Original source material illustrating Scotland’s history from the 12th to 20th centuries, published by the Scottish History Society, with authoritative commentaries

Scottish Post Office directories

Find where people lived and traded in Scotland between 1774 and 1911 by searching and browsing over 700 Post Office directories

Scottish school exams

Scottish school exam papers from 1888 to 1963, education development information, and original creative 're-sits' of old exam questions

Soviet posters

Around 70 posters issued in the Soviet Union between 1919 and 1930, relating to the Russian Civil War and economic and social issues

Struggles for liberty

Stories of the lifelong struggle for social justice by 19th-century African American freedom-fighters

The Duncan Street Explorer

Photos, audio recordings, floor plans and more help tell the story of the famous Bartholomew mapmakers of Edinburgh

The Lyon in Mourning

A contemporary account of the Jacobite rising of 1745 to 1746 using eye-witness interviews and letters

The Spiritualist

This London-based newspaper was a key title of the spiritualist movement in the 19th century

The word on the street

Discover early news stories and ballads that informed and entertained Scots between 1650 and 1910 as you browse around 1,800 broadsides

Wee Windaes

This site charts the continuum of the Scots language in printed form, from the 15th century to the present day